The first problem noticed was that the capacity limit of 30,000 visitors may have been too high. For example, on Sept 4,2005, approximately 29,000 local visitors went to the park. The average queuing time was 45 mins for the restaurants and more than two hours for the rides. The park faced pressure to lower the daily capacity limit. Instead, the park proposed other measures, such as extending the opening time by an hour and encouraging visits during weekdays by offering discounts, as opposed to reducing the actual limit.
The parked faced another problem when inspectors from the Hygiene Department were asked to remove their badges and caps prior to carrying out an official investigation of a food-poisoning case. Park officials later apologized and pledged to operate in compliance with all local regulations and customs. But problems continued. The police could not get into the park – even when deemed necessary – unless pre-arranged with the park’s security unit.
The park faced several public relations problems during its first year of operations, none bigger than that which occurred during the popular Chinese Lunar New Year holiday period. HKD had introduced a new, discounted, one-day ticket that could be used at anytime during a given six-month period. These tickets could not be used on “special days” when the park anticipated an influx of visitors. The first period of special days was the Lunar New Year holidays. In hong kong, the 2006 Lunar New Year period started on Jan 28 (Sat) and ended on Jan 31 (Tue).
However, HKD failed to take into account that the following two days Feb1 and 2 were still public holidays in Mainland China. Mainland tour agencies had purchased large batches of the discounted tickets and escorted large groups of Mainland tourists to HKD during those two days. Customers also complained that the park was too small and that it had too few Hong Kong-themed attractions. HKD had only 22 attractions, 18 fewer than the other Disney theme parks. Other guests claimed that they were mistreated during their stay at the park.
Some guests even planned to take legal action against HKD. For example, a park visitor from Singapore alleged negligence and discrimination of Disney’s staff because they refused to call an ambulance for her mother who later died of hear failure at an HKD hotel. A spokesperson for HKD denied the allegations, saying that the staff handled the case in the “most appropriate” manner. In another case, a guest and his daughter were in a bakery shop on Main Street, U. S. A. when they were hit by falling debris.
The guest stated “the park does not seem to regard customers’ safety as its priority” and threatened to take legal action against HKD, adding that they tried to placate him with a Winnie the Pooh for his daughter. The character performers at HKD complained that they were overworked and underpaid. The spokesperson of the staff union stated that workdays of more than 12 hours and inadequate rest breaks had overwhelmed many workers, causing work-related injuries, such as joint and muscle strain.
In reponse, Lauren Jordan, the theme park’s vice-president of entertainment, claimed that “there are a few cast members who have found this work to be less rewarding that others and perhaps more physically challenging than they anticipated. ” Complaints were not limited to the line staff; there was also turnover among the executive staff. HKD’s REPONSE To combat problems highlighted through the media, such as low park attendance, limited attractions, long queues, disgruntled employees and guests’ accounts of rude treatment, HKD implemented several recovery strategies.
New Promotion In 11/2005, the park offered ticket discounts in which the price for local residents was reduced by HK$50. Moreover, HKD promoted a ticket express package: guests could purchase a one-day rail pass for an extra HK$6. 4 over the admission price. In mid-2006, 50,000 taxi drivers were invited to HKD free of charge. Every taxi driver who took up the offer was given free admission to the park between May 15 and June 11, 2006. In addition, a 50% discount was provided to up to three family members or friends who accompanied each driver.
It was not clear whether it was successful. HKD also introduced a “one-day trip guide” in Chinese during November of 2005. This initiative was intended to explain HKD to local travel guides. Furthermore, special VIP treatment was extended to local celebrities in the form of a Dining with Disney program. Local TV commercials also featured testimonials of previous guests and enticing scenes from inside HKD. HKD offered Chinese travel agents a 50% discount on visits to the park and hotels. Incentives of approximately US$2. 0 per adult ticket were also given to tour operators who incorporated an HKD visit into their package tours. HKD also changed the sales packages to open-ended tickets, from just fixed-date tickets, which offered greater flexibility for visitors and minimized the number of returned tickets. OVERALL PERFORMANCE FOR THE FIRST YEAR The performance of HKD during its first year of operation had not turned out as good as had been hoped with some potentially devastating mistakes. Tour operators further complained that HKD was not big enough to keep the guests occupied for a whole day.
Worse still, HKD had faced much negative publicity: from overcrowding, to customer lawsuits, to chaotic incidents during Chinese Lunar New Year that were front page news in HK. Further, a survey of current visitors to HKD revealed that 30% of guests opted not to revisit the park, which did not bode well for HKD’s future. According to Hong Kong Disneyland, On June 30, 2009 Donald Tsang, the Chief Executive of Hong Kong announced that the expansion of Hong Kong Disneyland had been approved with 3 theme lands will be added by 2012.